Republicans selling out to Rahm's billionaire in GOP race

Is Rahm involved in the GOP race for governor in Illinois? You betcha. Meet Rahm's Republicans. Photo: AP

CHICAGO, Illinois Apri1 4, 2013 - The Illinois GOP was already a mess before top donors and advisors to Rahm Emanuel began waging their hostile takeover. One of them is also running for governor…as a Republican.

Fund managers are in the business of valuation, of buying up depressed assets, and selling them for profit. And make no mistake about it. With the Illinois Republican Party  in shambles, its political assets are selling cheap these sad days. Dirt cheap.

Like a Detroit strip mall.

So who’s buying and, more importantly, why?

One of those venture - some would say vulture - capitalists is Bruce Rauner, who has wasted no time forming an exploratory committee for governor. According to State Board of Elections reports, the former GTCR chairman has raised more than $1.3 million in funds - most of them from out-of-state contributors. He says he plans to put $50 million of his own money into his GOP bid.   

GOP operatives in Illinois are salivating. Rauner is a guy who can line some serious pockets. A number of conservative leaders and non-profit Illinois policy wonks have been falling over themselves touting Rauner, hats in their hands, hoping for a Rauner rich payout.

In the wake of the disastrous 2012 elections, more Republicans - national ones too - are abandoning ship, abandoning principles in return for cold hard cash. It’s every man for himself as the desperate sell-off - or sell-out - continues.

It’s a deal with the devil and they know it. But, they reason, if the devil is paying you, who cares?

Republican voters might.

Rauner’s firm’s purchase of SecurityLink from SBC Ameritech was one of the first big deals Rahm Emanuel put together after his sudden conversion to investment banker in the 1990s.  The SBC deal would not have happened but for Rahm’s insider connections to the Clinton White House.

According to the Chicago Tribune at the time, a Clinton-era regulatory deadline would have forced SBC to divest itself of SecurityLink. Instead, SBC financed all but $100 million of GTCR’s $479 million purchase of the firm. Less than six months later, GTCR, under Rauner’s leadership, resold the company for $1 billion, earning a quick $500 million on its investment.

In a two year stint, Rahm picked up $16.2 million in fees and was made managing director of the investment banking firm Wasserstein Perella. No experience required. Emanuel had never had a job outside of politics before.

Rauner has been a close friend, key advisor, and donor to Emanuel ever since.

But that wasn’t to be Rauner’s first encounter with Democrat pay-to-play politics.

Reports have been surfacing about Rauner’s contributions to Democrat Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania. According to Crain’s, Rauner sent Rendell a check for $200,000 in 2001 after meeting with his aides in Chicago. Just before the election Rendell received another $100,000 check. 

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Rauner’s firm was already managing $110 million in pension funds for the State Employee Retirement System in Pennsylvania before the election. After Rendell became governor, the state doubled its stake in GTCR funds to $226 million, earning the firm more than $4 million in fees.

If a candidate’s past speaks volumes about what he would do in office, Rauner’s must have been Blagojevich’s pay-to-play primer.  

Campaign finance records also reveal that Rauner and his wife have are longtime major contributors to Democrats and Democrat party committees.

Despite this, Rauner is painting himself as the outsider reformer candidate for governor. He has blanketed social media with a campaign to convince Illinois GOP voters that he is “one of them.”

Bruce Rauner Ad

“You like Harley’s? Fishing? Hunting? Then you’ll like my page,” reads one Facebook ad with a photo of Rauner’s grinning mug.

The ad is insulting as it is cynical. It’s the kind of ad you would expect from a close friend of Rahm Emanuel who thinks the GOP is nothing but a bunch of yokels.

In March, Rauner released the names of his board of advisors - among them Citadel’s Ken Griffin, another major donor to Rahm Emanuel.

Griffin and his wife, Anne, contributed more than $200,000 to Emanuel’s mayoral campaign in 2011.  Griffin, who calls himself a ‘Reagan Republican,’ also bundled more than $200,000 for Barack Obama in 2008. In the same election year, he donated to John McCain’s presidential campaign.

According to the Chicago Reader, the contributions have bought Ken Griffin regular hour-long private meetings with Mayor Emanuel. 

With ‘Republicans’ like this, who needs Democrats?

What does all this reveal about the kind of man Rahm’s friend Bruce Rauner is? That he is a man Illinois GOP voters can trust? That he is a reformer? That he will change the status quo political system?

No, just the opposite.

All of these troubling questions about Rauner & Co. are being quickly dismissed by the GOP political establishment. The smell of potential cash is a powerful corruptor. 

The Republican leaders who have already sold their souls to Rahm’s dear friend had better be careful.

I’ve heard the mark-up on corrupted Republican souls is pretty steep.

Read more from Chicago with Bill Kelly’s Truth Squad

William J. Kelly is an Emmy award-winning TV producer and conservative columnist. He is also a contributor to the American Spectator and He is a native from Chicago’s Southside.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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William Kelly


Conservative commentator, satirist, and radio talk show host William J. Kelly pens the “Kelly Truth Squad” and “The Tea Party Report” for the Washington Times Communities and is a contributor to the American Spectator and Kelly is also a producer of Emmy award-winning TV and received an Emmy nomination himself for outstanding achievement on-camera. He was previously the Executive Director of the National Taxpayers United of Illinois, a taxpayer watchdog group. He is a native of Chicago’s South side. For more information, visit

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